zondag 20 augustus 2017

All mixed up

As the weather continued to be all mixed up, we were kind of at a loose end on Saturday before last.

There is only so much charity shopping you can do, so in order to get our weekly vintage fix, we drove down to the town of Geel, just under 60 kilometers from where we are, where there's a delightful shop selling all manner of vintage and retro goodies, called Expo 58.

The dress I was wearing was picked up at a charity shop retro event back in 2014, when I plucked it from a mannequin after I'd fallen in love on the spot with its groovy pattern.

It is handmade and fully lined, and it's got a little slit at the top, which is not serving any purpose at all since it shows more of the same fabric. The skirt has got an inverted front pleat and there's a self fabric belt with a round blue buckle.

There are two reasons which keep me from wearing it to death. One is that it's cotton and needs ironing. The second is its rather annoying high collar which starts bothering me after a couple of hours' wear.

In order to break up the monotony of the pattern, lovely though it is, I added a white pearly brooch and a pink double string of pearls which belonged to my Great Aunt Josephine.

I think this three quarter sleeve mustard cardigan is perfect with it, adding a contrasting colour. Wearing a cardigan means I can add another brooch, and I chose a large, early plastic one with carved flowers.

I'm taking tentative steps towards pattern mixing, following the example of the queens of pattern mixing, Beate and Goody, by wearing a black and white checked jacket on top. It came without its belt, but needed one to give it more shape, so I added a fuchsia pink belt and pinned a large fuchsia flower corsage to its lapel, both tying in with the pink in the dress.

Burgundy Clarks shoes and a small reddish brown handbag were the final touches.

Oh, and did you notice my watch strap? The watch's original strap needed replacing when I suddenly remembered this strap, part of a lot of original 1970s watch straps found at a charity shop about two years ago.

Back to our little trip! We have been to the shop before, the last time was in December, when I blogged about it here, and we never leave the shop empty handed.

Lovely owner Stefanie is one of my readers too, which I'm really chuffed about!

There was a rail of vintage clothing in the shop's entrance, and I'd already chosen an armful of dresses to try on, when Stefanie noted all the commotion and came out to say hello.

Three of the dresses came home with me, and I'll be making a point of wearing the two summer dresses before the summer is out.

The third dress, a red plaid long-sleeved one, was actually made in Belgium. Look at that lovely label! I didn't like its buttons, and have already changed them, so that it's ready to wear. If the weather keeps going downhill the way it does, this may be very soon ...

Other things we bought are:

A delightful yellow wicker basket.

A box of stain remover, to be put into our kitchen display cabinet with our other vintage packaging.

Two paper grocery bags advertising La Vache Qui Rit (a.k.a. The Laughing Cow) and Spa mineral water.

We have framed them and hung them up in our kitchen.

Finally, a mystery object made from sturdy carton, featuring two Scottie dogs. I'd not idea what it was until Stefanie told me it was a backboard for hanging a daily tear-off calendar.

Sunday brought a mix of clouds and some sunshine, with a couple of showers thrown in.

We stayed at home and I continued with my mending. The upside of the unseasonable weather is that I have actually reached the bottom of my mending basket. Yes, you have read that right! I even finished shortening the lining of a winter skirt which had been waiting since, well, last winter!

This is one of the other things which had been languishing in my mending pile.

Right, that's a funky piece of fabric, but what is it?

I won't leave you in suspense for long: it's a maxi skirt!
It was far too long, so  needed shortening, and as it is lined, I needed to shorten that as well. Quite a job, as I've been doing it all by hand, having yet to master my Mum's sewing machine.

Isn't that print absolutely fabulous?

I did some more pattern mixing by wearing it with an orange polka dot shirt. Not very adventurous, I know, but I'm still learning ...

On top, a blue linen mix jacket I charity shopped a couple of months ago.

Oh, and the fringy suede shoes were a present from my friend Ann.

We met on the bus (one of the perks of public transport) and she lives nearby, and last Friday was her very first visit to Dove Cottage, where she joined me for coffee and cake and a catch up!

woensdag 16 augustus 2017

Wardrobe woes

After Mr. S. and Phoebe, my wardrobe is the love of my life, but still there are mornings I am stood in front of my full to bursting wardrobe not knowing what to wear.

I blame this on circumstances beyond my control, such as the weather. Mainly the weather.

The main culprit, of course, is that I've got so much choice, and so little time to wear it all.

This is especially true in Summer, let's say from May to early October (if we're lucky). One way or another, the summer season, as in warm enough to wear frivolous summer frocks, is far too short. We can fake it a little, by wearing tights and a cardigan (both of which I therefore have in abundance) but all too soon the day will come when the summer stuff has to be put away in favour of one's winter wardrobe.

So, there is no time to lose as, even in the best circumstances there will still be lots of unworn stuff by the end of Summer.

I am making a concentrated effort to wear those things which haven't been worn for a while. These can be things I'm not or no longer sure are me or that for one reason or another have slightly gone out of favour. I think I owe them at least another wear before making any drastic decisions.

Take this Diolen dress, picked up at the much missed Blender Vintage Shop a couple of years ago. I like the print, its cut and especially its collar. But it is lined, making it too thick for a hot day, and I think it's a tiny bit too short on me.

Out it came anyway, on Saturday before last, and at first I was sure it would be a goner. I added a belt: better.  A butterfly brooch on the collar, to keep the flowers company. A lime green necklace and ditto ring: not too bad. Still, I wasn't totally convinced ...

It was too chilly outside to go it alone,  so I needed to add a cardie. As the dress is rather short, none of my cardigans looked right, and believe me: I tried a lot of them. Then I pulled this green cropped cardigan out of the wardrobe, charity shopped and completely forgotten about. Problem solved!  I added not one but two flower brooches which seem to grow naturally along the cardie's neckline. My favourite green shoes and a tan handbag bought in Wales, and I was ready for some charity shopping. What else?

Wonder if the charity shop gods were good to us again?

This kitschy souvenir is from Scherpenheuvel, a famous Belgian place of pilgrimage, which we visited last November. Someone has written the date on the back, May 1961, and it says it was a gift from a grandmother to someone called Liliane. I find such things quite poignant and cannot help but embroider some story, ending with the sad fact that in all probability Liliane isn't around anymore and that her relatives saw no worth in keeping in what essentially is just a piece of varnished and decorated plywood.

I also found two pairs of blue shoes, a pair of peep-toes and a pair of sandals. As lately I'd been lamenting the lack of decent blue shoes, they were lucky finds, really!

Then there were these two bags.

Other buys were a yellow batwing cardigan, originally from H&M, and two belts.

While we were queuing at the till, I spotted this gorgeous plastic vintage brooch among a jumble of stuff in a display case.

On our way home, we passed the Art Deco water tower which is a favourite place for a picnic. We had the place to ourselves and sat enjoying our sandwiches and a cup of coffee in the sunshine, which had briefly appeared out of nowhere. While I was taking photographs, I saw dark clouds gathering in the distance. Minutes later, we had to flee to our car, dodging the first drops of rain.

We even had to wait out the worst of it in the car, while parked in front of our second charity shop of the day. A wasted trip, I should add, as there was nothing remotely interesting to be found.

Summer returned briefly on Sunday and what's more, we had a flea market to go to.

After some deliberation, I chose this dress, which came from Vintage Styling, another shop that is no more. It is, in effect, a black dress with a print, but the flower pattern, in reds and pinks, is so abundant that I tend to forget the black. It's got a tie as well as a self fabric belt, and it's one of those frocks I feel totally at ease in.

To start with, I was wearing a pink cardigan but it soon became too hot for it. I got my sunglasses with me, but wasn't wearing a hat, whereas Jos was wearing a hat but had left his sunglasses behind in the car, so that the first purchases we made were of a practical nature.

This simple straw hat served its purpose and can always be jazzed up with one of my flower hairbands.

Jos's solution was buying clip-on sunglasses, which were buy one, get one free.

In spite of a profusion of stalls, pickings were meagre, with stall after stall selling toys, children's clothes and retired household goods, so that we were more than bored by the time we reached the end.

Still, I spied a couple of brooches (yes, I know!) ...

...and a handful of rings!

To combat the feeling of defeat brought on by the uninspiring market, we finished the day by going for a little walk.

Nothing too strenuous, as my knee is still playing up. I really shouldn't have climbed up there ...

It's a good thing there were some conveniently placed tree stumps to rest the weary legs!

zaterdag 12 augustus 2017

Bye bye Wales: brooches and bad weather

It's time to wrap up the remainder of our Welsh holiday, but if you've come here for the beautiful scenery, you may be sorely disappointed.

If you remember, I ended my previous holiday post by saying it would be the last bit of sunshine we'd see during our holiday.

Sure enough, on Monday night we could hear the rain pitter-pattering on our cottage's slated roof until the early hours of the morning, but thankfully it had eased off a bit by the time we got up.

After two days of walking, we were ready for a spot of shopping, so we decided to go down to Carmarthen, about an hour's drive away.

First stop was the covered market, with a myriad of stalls, selling all manner of things.

We then ventured into the town itself. Carmarthen is quite a pleasant town with a mix of the usual high street and independent shops. And quite a few charity shops too: it was our quest to visit them all!

I struck gold at the very first one, where I found these two brooches. The little ceramic daisy is slightly damaged but I'll wear it all the same.

It had started drizzling by then and, feeling peckish, we dived into M&S and had lunch at the café.

From the café's first floor windows we could see people closing their umbrellas, so we considered it safe to continue our shopping expedition, hitting the rest of the charity shops and finding more brooches in one of them.

Other buys included books and a short-sleeved shirt for Jos, who also bought another flat cap in the sales at Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

We'd kept the best for last, as there is an Aladdin's cave of an antiques centre in King Street, which we remembered from last year.

I'd hardly walked in when I noticed some boxes of vintage costume jewellery at the bottom of a display cabinet. When I asked if I could have a look, the shop assistant handed me box after box (at least five or six of them) full of wondrous stuff so, while Jos was off browsing elsewhere, I had the mother of all rummages, and came away with 13 brooches!

More rain on Wednesday! Foggy and damp, the view across the estuary was more suited to an Autumn's day, if not the verdancy of the fields and foliage had given away that it was, in fact, the height of Summer.

To combat all the greyness, I dressed in a vintage blouse featuring yellow and pink blowsy flowers, which I accessorized with yellow and pink flower corsages, yellow beads and cardigan and a funky patterned scarf.

It was a pity I had to cover it all up with the black Gore-Tex again!

Hoping against hope that the rain would ease up any moment, and we could do something outdoorsy later, we drove into Cardigan. But the rain was stubborn and wouldn't budge, so that there was nothing for it but to do a bit of shopping. Again. In fact, we went in and out of every shop that even remotely took our fancy.

At a delightful shop called the Crafter's Cwtch, we browsed for presents for our faithful cat sitters, and I picked up some hand made brooches for myself: four ceramic ones and one made from a piece of polished beech wood.

In one of the downstairs shops in Cardigan Market, I found two more vintage brooches: a turquoise sunburst, and an  oval one depicting a posy of pansies. In fact, I already had the pansies brooch, which I bought last year, but as you can see this one is in much better condition.

The small blue flower brooch was hidden away in a cabinet at Barnardo's and cost just £ 1. It's got a big sister which I bought at a flea market back in March, and which Cate told me is 1930s, so surely £ 1 was quite a bargain!

Exhausted from all that shopping, a coffee break was in order, making use of the café's free wifi to catch up on some blog reading ...

If by Wednesday evening the rain seemed to have eased off a little, it came back with a vengeance during the night, this time accompanied by a fierce wind, which made the temperature drop even further.

The wind was driving horizontal sheets of rain over the estuary and on the gentle slopes opposite cows huddled together in the shelter of a handful of inadequate trees.

Thursday really was a day of inescapable wetness.

Watching the forces of nature at work from the eyrie of our cottage's bedroom window, we felt kind of ship-wrecked, as if cut off from the rest of the world. Apart from the howling of the wind, there was an eerie quietness, as even the eternally squawking gulls were silent for once.

Now, what were we to do? Having exhausted all the wet weather options in previous years, and not being in the mood for any repetitions, there was nothing for it but to drive to Pembrokeshire's county town of Haverfordwest which has a multitude of charity shops.

The trouble is that the road down there goes straight through the Preseli Mountains, passing near its highest point where, even in fine weather, a cold wind is blowing and a misty veil can often be found shrouding the landscape. In these circumstances, there was a dense flog and zero visibility, making it a precarious drive.

Having made it to our destination, we grabbed the last parking spot and ventured into town, the hoods of our Gore-Tex coats up against the freezing cold, as it was barely 10°C.

Even the most avid charity shoppers would have been shopped out by now and we halfheartedly trudged from shop to shop, finding nothing much to cheer us up. Apart from some books, I only came away with a brand new looking pair of pink Van Dal sandals from Oxfam.

Stopping several times for coffee, at one point accompanied by delicious Welsh cakes, was the sensible thing to do!

Jittery from all the coffee, we decided to call it a day and return to our cottage, curling up in front of the wood fire with a book.

All very cosy indeed, but this is not what we had come here for!

Finally, our last day dawned and guess what: it was still raining, although the eternal howling of the wind had quietened down.

We spent the morning packing our bags, almost glad that we'd be going home the next day.

Thursday's rain and cold had supplied me with a lip full of cold sores, so that my lower lip was about twice its usual size.

As we had to go food shopping, we nipped into Cardigan for an hour or so, while it was relatively dry. In a side street, we discovered a sweet little shop we'd never been into before, selling a mix of crafts and vintage stuff, where I made my final purchase of three brooches!

After a restless night, we had an early start on Saturday, and after breakfast with the sun streaming in through the windows (aargh!), we bade our final goodbyes to the cottage which has been our holiday home for the last seven years!

Cae'r Aber, we will miss you!

dinsdag 8 augustus 2017

Bags and buttons

I wish the weather would make up its mind once and for all, as this neither here nor there weather is getting on my nerves. It's not really cold, but it's humid, which is the worst kind of weather for me as it's making my joints, especially my knee, play up.

There were days when the sun was playing hide and seek with a thick layer of grey clouds. On others, strong gusts of wind were playing a game of their own with those leaves which were already hanging on by their fingernails, as if it was Autumn and not the middle of Summer.

It's been over a month now since we came back from holiday and we're more than half way through summer, which makes me feel a bit deflated.

It was a good thing that the week before last Think Twice was in the last stages of its sales, so that I could spend my lunch breaks rummaging through the € 1 and € 2 bargains.

I grabbed a couple of dresses and skirts without trying them on, knowing that I could always sell them on at next year's flea market if they didn't fit. There was a gorgeous dress which was just a tiny bit too tight, but this one here was a perfect fit.

It's handmade and the material is cotton for a change. I'm not sure if it's real 1950s or rather a later imitation.

The dress needed new buttons as one was missing. As they are purely for decoration (the dress closes with a side zipper and some poppers at the collar), I was spoilt for choice, and came up with these double-layered light blue ones.

There were handbags galore as well, all going for € 1. Isn't that tapestry one a beauty?

That Friday, I took the afternoon off and met my friend Inez for coffee.

Afterwards, we went to look at Think Twice's new collection, picking up yet another handbag. This one would blend in well with one of those Astrakhan coats, don't you think? In the bottom left photo, I have put it next to a hat I own. Not sure if it's fake or the real thing.

The necklaces were a present from Inez.

Saturday came along and lo and behold, she'd brought a little bit of sun with her. Though not for long.

I was wearing classic red, white and blue. This cute short-sleeved red on navy print Diolen dress has white trim at the sleeves and collar, which is V-shaped and decorated with four red buttons at the yoke. It's one of those frocks that never fails to cheer me up.

As it didn't look right with any of my necklaces, I just pinned on two coordinating cat brooches.

I believe the turquoise Karelia jacket was once part of a two-piece, and I'm imagining it combined with a box-pleated skirt or maybe a pair of bell bottoms. I bought it on its own though, its companion if there was one long gone.

I added a white flower corsage, complementing my white hair flower to keep my hair, which was in need of a wash, in check. An off-white bag and my red Clarks sling backs completed my outfit.

Our weekly charity shopping trip brought us to a shop in Mechelen we hadn't visited for a while as we'd left empty handed too many times. They had enlarged their clothing department and there was a whole aisle of dresses to browse through. My heart skipped a beat when I found some vintage gems among the usual high street stuff !

The second dress, also long-sleeved, in black with a very colourful pattern, needed a tiny bit of TLC, as its buttons were beyond their sell-by date and, frankly speaking, didn't do anything for this dress.

I unearthed these turquoise beauties from my stash of vintage buttons, and: Ta-dah!

We then carried on to our favourite charity shop, the one in Duffel near the park, where we sat on a bench eating the sandwiches we'd brought.

Walking around confirmed our suspicion that there's definitely a hint of Autumn in the air already.

The flower borders near the water's edge were quite overgrown, and I'm sure some of the plants were over well before their time.

Nature is definitely acting a bit weird this year ...

On to the charity shop where I found two more handbags. I'm not sure if the rattan basket was actually meant to be used as a handbag, but who cares?

From a supply cart, I grabbed this 1970s canister, which hadn't even made it onto the shelves yet.

These delightful apple decorated canisters could be saved for by buying petrol at Gulf petrol stations and are now very popular with the retro crowd, commanding higher prices than the € 0,50 we paid for this one.

We already have some of these canisters in Dove Cottage's kitchen, all originals obtained by Jos at the time.

This brass photo frame with slightly domed glass won't be empty for long, as we have boxes full of old family photographs to choose from.

Our final buy was this gorgeous 1950s olive wood jug, which set us back € 6.  A snip, according to various Etsy and other web shops.  I am totally in love with its shape and the wood's swirly grain.

If all goes well, I am linking up with Patti's Visible Monday for the very first time ...